Hello. My name is Willa. I live in Emeryville, and I've been a caregiver for over four years.
How did you get into caregiving?
I became a caregiver because my great-grandmother had got dementia. And when it progressed into Alzheimer's and she didn't know who I was, and I had been caring for her for so many years, I didn't understand the disease. So when things got worse, and she had passed away, I had done some research to at least find out what happened or what the problem was. And once that happened, I started to understand the disease better. After that, I did so well with caring for my grandmother that the word had got out, and then people started to call me and say, "Well if you're open to helping others." So it all started with me taking care of a loved one, and that's how I became a caregiver.
What advice would you provide to a new caregiver?
My advice to a new caregiver would be to understand that every client's situation is different, and the approach for each client is supposed to be different each time. Treat everybody like a loved one, like family. Best thing I could tell you is be patient, be open to whatever comes your way, adjust to it, and handle it. Just make sure you do it to the best of your ability, very patient, and do it with a smile. Enjoy what you're doing and everything should be okay.
Who is one of your most memorable clients?
A client I would never forget was a client who lived in San Ramon, and he had brain cancer. Despite the pain, despite how everything progressed so fast, he fought and fought. And he made sure that when his family was around him, he tried to put a smile on his face. He was so full of life, and he taught me a lot because he handled it very well. I don't know if I could have handled it as well as he did. But he handled it very well. And for that, when I think of my caregiving experience and all my clients I worked for, he's the first one that pops up in my head. He was a really good person.